With the introduction of FireWire and USB 2.0, external PC peripherals have become very fast in terms of performance. For the most part, this has made adding new devices to your computer system a very easy process. For example, adding a new hard drive or CD drive to your PC no longer has to involve opening the computer case. You simply plug in the new drive and off you go. Because of this there has been an explosion of new external drives hitting the market. One such drive is the new SLIM-K2Xtreme from Kano Technologies.
The SLIM-K2Xtreme is a portable DVD+RW drive that provides both DVD and CD burning. The K2Xtreme comes in two configurations: one for PC and one for Mac. Basically, the drive itself is the same but the bundled software is different. The drive measures 5.5” x 6” x .75” and only weighs 10 ounces. It’s a very sleek design that lends itself very well to on-the-go usage. The drive’s write speeds are also nice at 2.4 x 2.4 x 8 for DVDs and 16 x 8 x 24 for CD-RWs. I tested the drive under Windows XP, and since we’re talking USB here, installing the drive is as easy as it gets. Just connect the USB port on the drive to the USB port on your PC with the included cable, connect the drive’s power supply, and flip the power switch. Windows XP automatically recognizes the drive. No driver software needed. I imagine the procedure is just as easy on a Mac, although I don’t have a Mac computer so I couldn’t test it.
One thing to consider, however, is that most modern PCs have USB ports built-in, but many Mac computers don’t. Not to worry, however, because for those Mac users that don’t have USB, you’ll be happy to know that the K2Xtreme also provides a FireWire connection. This makes the drive very versatile. In addition, some older PCs may have USB 1.1 ports but not USB 2.0. While the K2Xtreme is compatible with the older USB version, it won’t perform nearly as well. So, you may need to upgrade your PC with a USB 2.0 PCI card. Also, you may need to connect to the Microsoft Windows Update site (by choosing Start > Windows Update or Start > All Programs > Windows Update) to make sure your system has all the drivers needed to work with USB 2.0 and DVD burners.
Initially, I tried using the built-in CD burning features of Windows XP to test the drive. It performed very nicely. The fast transfer rates made sure that I didn’t suffer any coasters, and that still holds true after a couple months of use. The K2Xreme supports writing of the following formats: DVD+RW/R, UDF, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-Extra, CD-I, Photo CD, CD-ROM XA, CD-RW/R. And it supports the following writing modes: (CD) Track at Once, Disc at Once, Multi-session, Packet Write, Session at Once, (DVD) Multisession [DVD+R], Seqential Write, Random Access Write [DVD+RW]. The one downside to this drive is that it only supports the DVD+ format for writing and not the DVD- format. So if you plan to create your own DVD movies, be sure your DVD player supports DVD+ or you won’t be able to watch any of the movies you create.
In addition to the drive, the package includes two software products, which are different depending on what configuration you get (Mac or PC). If you purchase the Mac configuration, you get Dantz Retrospect Express for data backup and restore. You also get Roxio’s Toast Lite. Toast Lite provides the ability to burn audio CDs, data CDs and DVDs, and copy unprotected CDs and DVDs. Retrospect Express lets you take full advantage of the 4.7GB DVD storage capacity by scheduling data backups and creating a bootable recovery disc in case your hard drive crashes. If you purchase the PC configuration, you get Roxio’s Easy CD Creator DVD Edition and NTI Back Up Now for DVD. Easy CD Creator lets you burn CDs and DVDs and it has a very easy-to-use interface that can be used to ‘drag and drop’ video from your hard drive to a DVD for creating your own movies. NTI Back Up Now can schedule full-image or specific-file backups and provides unique file-compression to save time and disc space when backing up data.
I like the small compact size of the SLIM-K2Xtreme. I also like the easy installation procedure. The included software in both configurations is very useful. The performance of the drive is also very good as long as you have USB 2.0 or FireWire. The SLIM-K2Xtreme gets my vote as a good product. The one downside is that the drive only supports the DVD+ format. And at $399 the drive is also a bit pricey. But since that’s the list price, you’ll probably be able to find the SLIM-K2Xtreme for less at your favorite retail stores.